Ash Road by Ivan Southall
I read Ash Road when I was in Primary School, probably when I was around 10 or 11. I distantly recall that after a reading diet of Louisa May Alcott, Susan Coolidge, Mary Grant Bruce, Arthur Lang, Trixie Belden and ancient Girl’s Own Annuals, it was quite something – a very different reading experience for that young me.
Rereading Ash Road brought back to me some feeling of that first reading. It is a powerful story about small communities trapped in the path of a catastrophic bush fire. A small group of children, an elderly man and a sick man are left behind in a hilly cul-de-sac as the able-bodied adults are called away to help fight a fire that no-one thinks will reach them.
The descriptions of the ominously hot and windy day and the development of the unseen threat are profoundly resonant and based on Ivan Southall’s own experience of living in a fire-threatened community. For ages 10–14.